Monday, May 12, 2008

Comedian Chris Rock and Sales Honesty

Part of the foundation of a successful business is intimate relationships with customers and prospects based on honesty, integrity and loyalty. Right?

The reality is that most companies are unprepared (and even unwilling) to deliver on that promise. Consider a recent article in Computerworld about the stereotypical sales styles practiced by technology vendors that ostracize the very prospects they target.

The 6 Most Infuriating Tech Sales Styles

Last month at the RSA Conference in San Francisco I chatted with the Chief Security Officer from a university based in Ohio who explained he spends his time at trade shows ducking vendors. He was there for the peer networking and continuing education courses, and viewed the companies hawking wares as merely a nuisance.

This morning I read about an encryption software firm called Mobile Armor that employed a misleading product comparison matrix in its sales process that implied its product was better than competitors’. Mobile Armor officials declined to comment for the article, yet have acknowledged that a consultant, who no longer works for the company, created the matrix without the knowledge of company executives.

Vendor Assailed for Unfair Marketing
Federal Computer Week

The natural (and easy) reaction is to be outraged by the blatant lack of respect many companies display for integrity in the sales and marketing process. Yet, as comedian Chris Rock once said in a skit about OJ Simpson’s alleged double murder, “I am not saying he should have killed her, but I understand.” (

That’s because in many instances prospects -- because of a lack of expertise and time – are forced to make uneducated decisions. As a result, vendors are placed in the uncomfortable position of balancing complete honesty in the sales and marketing process with the ability to effectively compete the marketplace.

Do you think I am off base? Has a prospect ever asked if your firm has a particular competency and, to ensure you remain in the running for the business, you overstate your capability? Any sales executive that answers “no” to that question is most likely on the street looking for work.

At Strategic Communications Group (Strategic), our policy is to never misrepresent our clients’ capabilities, track record or competitive advantages. Yet, we also position our clients based on the company they are striving to become, rather than what they are today.

No comments: